Oracy – the ability to communicate effectively using spoken language – is a core whole-school approach pedagogy running through the heart of Easton Academy in Bristol. The school is an inner-city primary, where over 90% of pupils speak English as an additional language, the majority of whom are Somali.
The school uses Talk4Writing to deliver an exciting and engaging literacy curriculum. Based on developing the children’s ability to read and write through oral storytelling, the children learn both stories and nonfiction texts specially selected to promote both a love of reading and writing. Teachers are experts in Talk4Writing. They also share expertise with colleagues across the region and are always keen to take on new ideas and learn from others. Many of the teachers have also completed Voice21’s oracy leadership programme, then share their knowledge with teachers across the school.
Oracy is promoted throughout the school, for example in the daily assemblies, and has become a key part of the curriculum. For example, for an end of term project Year 3 students created an Egyptian Museum to showcase their work and acted as tour guides. The school council is made up of pupils from Years 2 to 6, where pupils have debated topics such as ‘All children should wear school uniform’. Children across the year groups discuss their thoughts with confidence and respect of others’ opinions, using taught scaffolding terms, such as ‘I agree with…because…’ and ‘Building on what…thinks, I believe…’. There are clear discussion guidelines, for example ‘don’t talk over others’, which the children respectively follow.
Recently Easton Academy have encouraged talking in Maths which has resulted in improved maths outcomes. Across the school, teachers are learning that expecting children to talk about and explain their work actually helps them to understand it better and become more fluent.